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Where Should I Hit the Ball?

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What’s News in Pickleball

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The USAPA is here to assist USAPA Ambassadors, physical education teachers, youth program leaders, coaches and recreation professionals with training and program resources to introduce pickleball to youth with a new membership opportunity!

One benefit of the Youth Program Provider Membership is a printed copy of the “Let’s Play” Youth Pickleball Playbook and eight laminated activity cards. The playbook is designed to help teachers, recreation leaders, after-school staff, and racquet /paddle facilities. It provides teachers and pickleball leaders with fun games, skill activities, play rotations and play manager tips for offering a dynamic program. The eight laminated activity cards can be utilized for station teaching to accommodate large numbers of students in limited space.

Youth Program Provider Members will have access to online instructional videos that explain how to work with kids of all abilities and grade levels. The videos will also address how to work with large numbers of students in limited spaces and how to get kids playing quickly with important fundamentals.

Additionally, deeply discounted equipment will be available including paddles, balls, nets, teaching aids and more.

Last, but not least, Youth Program Provider Members will receive a digital copy of Pickleball Magazine and will also be eligible for community grants to help further the sport through USAPA.

Be sure to join as a Youth Program Provider or consider sponsoring a school or youth organization so that they can receive the great benefits below!

Youth Program Provider Membership for $40!

Benefits include:

“Let’s Play” Youth Pickleball Playbook – includes eight laminated activity cards

Deeply discounted equipment

Online instructional videos on how to introduce pickleball to kids

Community grant opportunities

Digital copy of Pickleball Magazine

Be on the lookout for the new membership offering designed to help establish new youth programs or enhance existing programming. Visit for more information!  

A strategic initiative and part of the mission to grow the sport is for USAPA to launch an annual signature championship that addresses the indoor side of our sport. Late last year, following several months of discussions, we were able to announce the first annual USA Pickleball National Indoor Championships! The event is scheduled to be played June 9-13 at the Finley Center, part of the Hoover Met Complex in Hoover, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham. The nearly 100,000-sq.-ft. Finley Center is a state-of-the-art hardwood facility that has played host to several national-level and SEC tournaments and events.

For the inaugural National Indoor Championships, players can expect a 27-court layout complete with championship court, beer garden, sponsor village, player locker rooms, food concessions and other built-in amenities. Adjacent to the complex is the massive Hoover RV Park that can be enjoyed by both players and spectators alike. 

USAPA’s Managing Director of Competition, Karen Parrish, is serving as the tournament chair and she has assembled a talented team, including Jarick Rager, Assistant Tournament Director; Gail Furtner, Assistant Tournament Director; George McCully, Lead Referee Coordinator; Laura Patterson, Asst. Referee Coordinator; Mark Pfeifer, Referee Trainer; Justin Maloof, Executive Director, and George Bauernfeind, Director of Marketing, who represent some of the absolute best tournament people in the sport. Karen also serves as the tournament chair of the USA Pickleball National Championships in Indian Wells.

This year’s event offers skill/age brackets (3.0-5.0), a junior/high school division, a wheelchair/adaptive division, and will feature an Open division of 4.5/5.0 players, who will compete for $25,000 in prize money. The $25,000 pool equals the cash prize just three years ago at the 2017 USAPA National Championships (outdoor).

At the time of this printing, more than 500 players have already.


registered for this historic event. Registration will remain open until May 8 or until the event capacity is reached. As a first-time event, there are no qualifying tournaments for this year’s event. However, this will change in 2021, so players still looking to participate should consider registering now to secure their spot in this National Championship event. Registration details are available at


With the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden serving as the sport’s premier outdoor tournament, our goal is to establish a complementary event that caters to those who favor the indoor game. Our hope is that, in a few short years, a new breed of “indoor stars” will emerge much like the pro-caliber players who have developed within the last 5-6 years in the outdoor game.


Due to the situation regarding COVID-19 virus, please know that this event has been postponed for 2020. Please check for news and updates regarding the 2021 USAPA National Indoor Championships.   

The USAPA Recreational Programs and Services Department is in full swing to establish a base and structure that will assist in accelerating the growth of junior participation within schools and after-school entities nationwide. As the national governing body of the sport, the USAPA is committed to provide the tools necessary to promote pickleball and its benefits. We are working hard to communicate that pickleball is a lifetime sport that fosters health, wellness and emotional development. We want people to experience the fun and welcoming social culture that gives it a unique and broad appeal.


The USAPA recently added four new Board Members to the organization—Bob Franceschelli, Suzanne Guerin, Joe Santoro and Ernie Medina Jr. All four will be profiled in upcoming issues. We first welcome Ernie Medina, Jr. 

Ernie Medina, Jr. Biography 

As a kid, Ernie Medina, Jr., was always involved with racquet sports. Maxing out at a lofty height of 5 ft. 6 in., he was always shorter than most of his peers, so popular sports like basketball and volleyball didn’t suit him, but with parents who were tennis players, he started playing tennis at an early age, and table tennis even earlier. In the mid-1980s while in college, he worked as a teacher’s assistant for Laura Fenton Kovanda, and added racquetball to his list of racquet sports he loved to play. When his mom, Loida, introduced him to pickleball in April 2016, it was love at first dink. 

Pickleball fits in nicely with Ernie’s professional career as well. He studied health science, health promotion, and lifestyle behavior change at Andrews University (undergrad) and Loma Linda University (LLU) where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in health promotion and preventive care. After graduating in 1993, Ernie worked for 21 years at Beaver Medical Group working with patients who, because of certain lifestyle-related diseases, needed to change their habits, especially in physical activity, nutrition, stress management, and smoking cessation. Ernie was always organizing various physical activity events for his patients, such as hiking, bicycle riding and yearly physical activity challenges. 

In 2015, Ernie went back to LLU and joined the faculty of the School of Public Health, where he now helps to train and educate the next generation of public health specialists. His research interest is physical activity and is currently part of the first dissertation on pickleball. Ernie is also known as the “Pickleball Evangelist” and is using pickleball to impact health. With his position at Loma Linda University, he teaches pickleball as part of a summer day camp for overweight kids called “Operation Fit.” 

Ernie does take time to play pickleball, and now that he has aged up into the 55+ category, he’s looking to play more senior tournaments such as the Huntsman Games and SSIPA tournaments. This tireless dynamo also organizes and runs several tournaments, including the Halo Halo Cup, LLU Homecoming Pickleball Tournament, and Loma Linda Pickleball Club’s winter and spring tournaments. While he enjoys coordinating tournaments, his first love is playing with and teaching newbies and creating more “pickleball addicts.” Plus, Ernie has been a USAPA Ambassador since 2016 for his Loma Linda community. 

When he looks back on the last four years, he’s amazed to see how pickleball has impacted both his personal and professional lives. And while his wife and daughter don’t play (they stick with running and mountain biking), his three siblings play, as well as a growing number of extended family members. One of his goals for 2020 is to get his 82-year-old mom qualified and entered into the National Championships. And, while his late dad Ernesto Sr., who taught him tennis and table tennis, never had a chance to play pickleball due to a stroke 15 years before his mom was introduced to the game, Ernie looks forward to the day he will meet his dad again and challenge him to a game of pickleball. 

Look for Suzanne’s, Joe’s and Bob’s biographies in future issues of Pickleball Magazine.

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